Malaysia: At least 25 killed in fire at religious school

Residents heard cries for help at religious school engulfed by fire

Twenty-three people, mostly children, were killed Thursday by a blaze that tore through a Malaysian religious school, trapping them in a dormitory with metal grilles barring its windows.

Kuala Lumpur Police boss Amar Singh said the bodies were "absolutely scorched".

Firefighters contained the fire within an hour but not before it claimed over 20 lives. Two students from the school are still in critical condition.

Officials said the school was operating without a fire safety permit and license, and that a dividing wall was illegally built on the top floor that blocked the victims from a second exit.

The fire started Thursday morning at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah school located at a village about 3 km from the signature Petronas Twin Towers.

"We urgently want the authorities to quickly probe the cause of the deadly fire so that we will be able to prevent future disasters".

Noh Omar, minister for urban well-being, housing and local government, says the school's original architectural plan including an open top floor that allowed access to two exit staircases.

Residents heard cries for help at religious school engulfed by fire

'I broke a window and grabbed a pipe attached to the outside of the building and I used it to escape to the ground, ' he said. "All of the bodies were found grouped together on each other", he added. "The pupils got locked in and they couldn't escape and got burnt", said Nadia Azalan, sister of a 13-year-old victim.

More than 24 understudies and educators have died in a fire at a religious school in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.

"From what we understand, there was only one way out, but they couldn't get through because it was on fire", said his brother, Faizal Abdullah. Two school wardens were among the dead.

Fire officials said they found no damage to the electrical wiring of the dormitory, ruling out their earlier suggestion that a short circuit probably caused the blaze.

There were 519 tahfiz schools registered across the country as of April, but many more were believed to be unregistered, the paper said.

Malaysian authorities have raised concerns about safety measures at unregulated private religious schools.




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